Once more onto the breech, my friends! A mix of modern queer witchery and ancient Celtic legend, Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer hits the pulse of the time perfectly. I love that elements that rank among my favourites are such a trend at the moment – this book is perfect for fans of Toil and Trouble, Sanctuary, Amy Rose Capetta, Sarah Gailey, and the many other recent sapphic witch books!
This post is part of the Fantastic Flying Bookclub Blog Tour, and I encourage you to check out the full schedule here, and read some of my co-blogger’s opinions as well! As usual with the FFBC, there is also a giveaway for a beautiful finished copy of the book for a reader in the US – click on this link here to enter. Thank you to the FFBC for having me, and NetGalley and Freeform for the eARC to review. (I bought the finished copy in the picture myself)
RELEASE DATE: 03/03/20
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
OPINIONS: Murrrrderrrr. Murder most foul in quaint Ireland. I love myself a good murder mystery, and especially one that involves magic and rituals. The premise of a serial killer reappearing after years intrigued me from the start, and was well executed into its details – E. Latimer went into a lot of nuance to craft things quite right and avoid potential loopholes! This is interwoven with Celtic legend, which made my medievalist heart very happy. It is not so mythology heavy to weigh down the book for those not familiar with Irish and the Irish tradition (which, from my experience teaching undergraduates is quite hard to get into at first), but just enough so to enhance the world-building and give it another dimension. As a nerd, I went and looked up the stories referenced, which made me enjoy Witches of Ash and Ruin even more – but that is absolutely not necessary.
The magic system used by the witches in the book themselves is relatively separate from these legends, apart from referencing deities that individual witches pledge themselves to. And oh the witches. Traumatised Dayna, needing protection, after having been outed as bisexual in her conservative, religious community. Tall, mysterious and distant Meiner, too soft in her grandmother’s opinion, trying to figure out who she wants to become. I think I too fell a little in love with her. Ambitious Cora, and free-spirited Reagan. Well-crafted, though not always as nuanced as I would have liked, the young generation of witches have their distinct personalities and roles to play in the story. In general, many of the characters were not necessary likeable, but interesting – but then, I don’t read books because I’m looking to find fluffy, nice people I want to be friends with.
I really enjoyed reading Witches of Ash and Ruin, and raced through the story to find out how it ended. While elements of the story were predictable at times, it did not detract from the pacing and the book as a whole. It worked well as a standalone novel, and I am very curious to read what E. Latimer comes up with next! Witches of Ash and Ruin is out now, order it from Book Depository now, or contact your indie of choice to get your hands on a copy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E. Latimer is a fantasy writer from Victoria, BC. Her middle grade novel, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray was published by Tundra Books, and was recently nominated for the Red Maple Fiction Award. In her spare time, she writes books, makes silly vlogs with the Word Nerds about writing, and reads excessively. Her latest novel, Witches of Ash and Ruin, will be released Spring/Summer 2020 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. You can find her online here: